Treatment of sprained ankle

An ankle sprain can happen by simply stepping on an uneven surface, or stepping down on an unusual angle. The most common ankle sprain occurs on the lateral or outside part of the ankle. When the foot twists, rolls or turns beyond its normal motions, a great force is transmitted upon landing. This causes the ligaments to stretch beyond their normal range in an abnormal position.

What are the symptoms?

  •  Ankle pain, which can be mild to severe
  • Swelling and bruising around the ankle
  • A popping sound during the injury
  • Difficulty moving the ankle
  • If you cannot put any weight on the injured foot
  • Instability of the ankle (in severe strains)

Grade of the sprain

There are varying degrees of ankle sprain, which your podiatrist will be able to diagnose after a quick examination. 

Grade 1 sprain: Slight stretching and damage to the fibres (fibrils) of the ligament. 

Grade 2 sprain: Partial tearing of the ligament. If the ankle joint is examined and moves in certain ways to suggest abnormal looseness (laxity) of the ankle joints. 

Grade 3 sprain: Complete tear of the ligament. If the podiatrist pulls or pushes on the ankle joint in a certain way and there is gross instability. 

How is an ankle sprain diagnosed?

Ankle sprains can be diagnosed fairly easily due to the fact that it is a common injury. Your podiatrist might also suggest the following:

  • An x-ray or ultrasound will indicate that the ankle ligaments have been torn or sprained. 
  • In severe cases, an MRI may be needed to rule out other related problems such as damage to the cartilage. 
  • Chronic instability can occur in patients who sprain their ankle repeatedly, which can result in damage to the ankle joint. 
  • It is important not to assume an ankle sprain, as other injuries can occur such as a tear in the peroneal. 

What are my options?

  • Surgery is not required in the vast majority of ankle sprains. 
  • Patients who can bear weight in the foot are likely to recover in a shorter period of time.
  • Resting and icing the ankle sprain for 20 minutes every two to three hours is advised in the first 48 to 72 hours of the injury taking place. 
  •  Patients who cannot bear weight on the foot are better treated in a removable walking boot until they can comfortably put weight on the foot. 
  • Your podiatrist will teach you how to strengthen the muscles around the ankle. 

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